From AZ to STX
First things first: I want to say THANK YOU to all that post on this form, I have found the information extremely helpful. My boyfriend and I have been planning and researching a move to STX for about 6 months now. We narrowed it down to STX over several other places including Bahamas and Hawaii. I'm a BORN planner, so I feel that from all the reading and research we've got a pretty good game plan, a bunch of money saved up for the move and a separate account for an emergency departure lol. Currently we have our flights for our PMV scheduled in July for 19 days. I'm a BIG nature person, here in AZ I have a 200g salt water tank with corals and such. So being surrounded with what I am most passionate about I'm sure will be a major plus.
I have a few discussion points I would appreciate input on so I'm just going to bullet point them, any advice would be great:
I realize crime is everywhere and in Phx it can be pretty bad at nights in downtown. I was browsing the posts today as i do every day and was reading the replies of the thread "stealth camping". Some of the replies literally are making me want to cancel out PMV all together!!! Replies like: "asking for a good ol VI beating" "don't bring a knife to a gun fight" "monogram your name onto the tent so the newspapers know who to put in the obituaries"
REALLY? I'm not totally sheltered but I am very petite and a bit worried about my safety and it sounds like from that entire thread that it's complete chaos over there. Am I really not going to be able to go to a bar in the evening, or walk to a neighbors house without being mugged or worse??? Should I not have any nice things in my home for worry of theft??? Should i not bring my ipad or big bills on our PMV?? Those posts on that thread honestly have me VERY worried. I did read that the crime rate in much higher than Miami which is worse than Phoenix. I'm also very worried that when we're on our PMV were gonna have to watch our back at every turn. If we hike some of the trails are we going to get mugged and my stuff stolen?? I'm no idiot and I know not to go into seedy looking alley's but really how bad is it?
2. Shipping the car:
Ugh the dreaded question that's been asked too many times to count right lol! I have a lifted diesel truck that's obviously not gonna make the trek but my boyfriend has a 2004 Honda civic that's reliable but older and kinda junky. We're thinking about just bringing his car and me buying one on the island. If his dies while we are there we will have to buy another one. Is it REALLY a good idea to buy the "island cars" at cheaper prices say $3k or am I just asking for a unreliable piece of junk lol. No worries if it's not the prettiest just want reliable. It's basically down to buying a car in FL and pay shipping or buy in STX. I have read that many times people sell their cars when they have to leave the island so a deal can be had. Does anyone know if it would be easier and or cheaper to ship from Long Beach CA Rather than drive it to FL?
3. Best areas to live:
Its just gonna be me, my boyfriend and our 2 cats. No kids and don't want them lol. Where is the safest area for new islanders? My boyfriend will be hopefully transferring to a lesser position to OfficeMax in the sunny isles shopping center. He is a store manager with OMX and he has been with the company for about 13 years. I'm hoping to get a job at a dive shop doing whatever they need me to do. I'm certified but not a dive master or anything and only have half a dozen dives logged. A snorkel tour would be perfect but I've been a waitress, and worked in hospitality (hotels) and have a bachelors in graphic design. I'm assuming I will be able to find SOMETHING and I'm not really that picky, just a job to pay the bills that will still allow time off to play in the sand.
Is Christiansted busier/better for dive shops and day cruises because of Buck Island or is Frederiksted a better choice because of the cruise lines? I'm becoming partial to Frederiksted because of the rain forest nearby, it's more lush I would imagine. I'm not looking for beach level homes but I would like to find a rental in the areas between Frederiksted and the Kings quarter. Are there and home rentals in the Kings quarter area that are like neighborhoods? I assume it's different than here and things are more spaced out in STX. We're meeting with a couple Realtors while we are there on our PMV and will hopefully hat an idea on what areas offer what.
Condo vs house?? What are the main benefits of each on the island? Do houses usually come with back up generators for power outages? It seems that most condos have a back up for that. That's a pretty big plus although I suppose we could purchase one at HD. Gardens and chickens? Odd question but we really are looking to so a little self sustaining while living on STX. Do most houses have or allow tenants to have gardens or chickens? I grew up in TX on a farm and we raised Black Angus cattle and of course had a garden and chickens. Here in AZ it's almost impossible to have both because of the heat (107'f as I write this today!) and I miss it.
How necessary is AC in STX? Keeping in mind I'm from AZ and the house inside never dips below 80- daytime inside is 85 but is is DRY so not a sticky heat like there. Outside temps can range from 90s at night to 110ish during the day in summer, yep it's HOT!! I guess its all personal preference but I just wonder if fans will cut it. I'm not worried about the WAPA bill, my bills here are between $250-400 mo. So with the minimal is any AC there I am estimating it will be about the same. Making friends: with the crime seeming to be somewhat high I would think its important to get to know as many people as possible. Is there a tight "click" on the island between Crusians and newbies? Any good places for newbies to hang out and drink a few beers?
Well I think I wrote a bit too much lol but thank you in advance for all of your help! We really have no ideas of grander for this move. A simple adventure to say we've done it, we realize it's gonna be really tough at times and it's not a vacation lol. We're VERY excited to at least attempt to live in paradise.
1. safety-most of those posts were to warn someone not to camp in an area he knows nothing about. you should be fine but always watch your back and take precautions-read more threads on crime. we do have the highest murder rate per capita and sometimes people who are not into crime get killed.
2.you might be able to find good used cars with people leaving island due to hovensa closing. i brought my car because i bought it new and knew what was up with it-cheaper than buying a used care here.
3.not really any best areas unless you have money to buy a home in a place like Judiths Fancy or something like that, we live in christiansted. most of the time safe, but you can look at my posts to see about the crime we have dealt with. christiansted for dive shops.
condo fees can be pretty high-threads on that. your question on chickes would be best asked to a Realtor or rental agent.
4. in the summer, a/c would be nice. my mom/her husband were out in august of last year from az and we do not have air-we all took many cool down showers. it was just much hotter humidity wise than they were used to and with no air-well you can imagine. i have been to az in the summer where the temps were 120 or so. i think that is easier to deal with than the heat here- i actually get rashes now. if you can afford the air i say go for it. also threads on cost of living and electricity-look them up
when you say your bills are 250-400 is that just electric?? are you the type of person who needs air conditioner?
also factor in the cost of food- more than twice here than what you pay.
Re: safety, is STX better than or worse than STT? Seems that STX is more spread out. our plane comes in at like 6:00 and were gonna have to get a rental and try to navigate the island to find the place were staying at. Does this put a huge target on our backs? is there a set time at night that we shouldn't be out? Would getting a cab from the airport be better and then a cab next day back to get the rental?
Our AC bill only is on average $300 I think I can live without AC but will need fans thou. July should tell us more about if I can hack it without. I see many have it just in the bedroom or something. That's most likely what we would do.
Who does home security alarms on the island?
Foods gonna be pricey Ive learned that lol. Lucky for us we live pretty simply for food and make sandwiches and don't like milk for the most part. Fish and veggies occasionally a steak is our style. We're gonna go shopping the first day in town on the PMV and hopefully I will get close to my estimated budget for groceries.
stt and stx-depends on who you ask. if you are comfortable driving on the left, you should be fine. we dont mean to scare newbies, just like to give an accurate portrayal. just use your common sense and trust your gut.
go to all three store- cost u less, plaza extra and pueblo. none of the stores-for the most part have everything you might need. we went to kmart, cost u less and pueblo today. of course kmart was out of the sale items i went there for. could not find canned mushrooms at cost u less, so we went to plaza. did not want to pay almost 5 bucks for a pack of fresh, especially since we were not making tempura.
if you get a/c go for the split units. i hear they are somewhat okay cost wise for electricity
You've got a lot of good advice ... the only thing I'll add is regarding AC.
It really depends on where you live and how it catches the breeze. We first moved here in the summer and the way our first house was oriented, it didn't get ANY breeze. It had no AC and it was brutal. You couldn't plug in enough fans. All we could do was get out of the house between 11a and 3p.
However, after searching and adjusting, we've found the place that is best for us (we're on number three _ never signed a long term lease) and the breeze is PHENOMENAL. There is a window AC here, but we never use it. In fact, we only keep one window open and a fan on in the bedroom and sometimes I have to halfway close the window next to my desk in the office because there is too much breeze!
As for humidity, I grew up in Florida and have lived in Atlanta and Washington, DC. To me, all three are much stickier in the summer than here.
(One more thought regarding crime: you mentioned you've considered Bahamas, assuming New Providence or Grand Bahama, I think crime here is about on par with crime there.)
Thanks speee1dy and jbatl for the input! Where about did u find the place with the breezes? We too are looking for a place like that. I don't need to be on the beach but do want a higher up place with a decent view and trade winds. One of our MUST haves is lush landscape. I know some of the island is more arid and coming from AZ we want the tropicals, Mosquito's and all! We're going to do quite a bit of learning the island and where the breezes are when we do our PMV. We will be bringing 2 cats so need a place that is cool enough for them and us. we may need to find a place with AC.
Great comments and advice already and only a couple other things to add.
Double check on the generator situation at condo complex(s). There are several that don't have any or limited service if they do.
Gardens and chickens in some areas allowed, I know in our community there are both. We have many fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers and chickens (for the egss 😉 We use run off water from the laundry for watering. You can check with agent or owners on rules.
Also breezes are another thing to check for. We literally haven't used AC but one time in 7 yrs years, have great breezes.
Energy eff features are also added to some homes and condos already to help lower power bills. Check for solar features or gas appliances. For us, 2 people in a 2 bd 2 ba with a pool, solar hot water and gas stove and dryer, our power bill has averaged $160.00 over 7 yrs.
Hope this helps and enjoy your adventure you're gonna love the coral and sea life here:)
The wind almost always comes from the northeeast, east or southeast. A building should have a breeze as long as there are no major obstructions to the east, such as trees, hills, other buildings, etc. The higher up, and the fewer obstructions, the more breeze. You may also get a breeze without a clear shot to the east. It depends on local topography. You'll also want east-facing windows, and it helps to have windows downwind, so the breeze can go through the building.
Done farming: It sounds like youve got the perfect place!! Thats really what we are looking for. Where abouts on the island are you? Do you have the high dollar solar water heater or the cheaper home depot kind that ive seen people using. Ive never used gas appliances so forgive me, I would assume you still pay for gas correct? Is it managed by WAPA also? Is it that much cheaper? Interesting.
StxBob: Thank you! Thats pefrect specifics that we can really use when on the PMV to find the right houses.
Ive never used gas appliances so forgive me, I would assume you still pay for gas correct? Is it managed by WAPA also? Is it that much cheaper?
Most all houses use propane. Propane comes from either Antilles Gas or St Croix Gas. Both are private. We use Antilles. We have two 23 gallon tanks at our home. They last a few months each (provided there are no leaks _ gas company can check this when they deliver). Each tank costs $90.50. When one goes, you switch to the other and call for a new one. They pick up the empty one and bring a full one. Usually same day or next day service. Very efficient. Good people, in my experience.
House has (2) 100 lb tanks, got the second one for back up in case of storm or "oops if I forget to check' 😉 delivered by St Croix Gas. Located on east end close to gas station. Solar system was installed prior to Home Depot. I can get the details and send in pm 😉
Hope that helps
Not much to add except that I think you'll easily find the answers to almost all your questions and everything will fall into place just by being here on your PMV - which of course is its purpose!
Keep looking on craigslist - there are a lot of scam ads (I flag about two a day!) but there are also a lot of legitimate listings.
All the best and enjoy your PMV!
Looks like most of your questions have been answered. (I've been out of town and away from the forum for a while! 🙂 ) I would just pick up your rental when your flight lands and save yourself the expense of a taxi. If you're even remotely adventurous, you'll be fine. You can't get lost for very long... the island is not that big! Just make sure you pick up a map at the car rental place. As for having problems... I look a lot like you, and I've never had trouble driving alone at night. In fact, I've had people walk over to my car and offer directions when I've been obviously lost. Just don't go into obviously bad areas (you'll recognize them... they look the same in any part of the country!), and be careful at intersections with the whole driving on the left thing.
Thanks roadrunner. I've been an emotional wreck with all the research I've been doing on the crime. I feel HORRIBLE for the locals and newbies with some of the terrible crimes that have happened and to innocent people. It's VERY sad. I was almost to the point where we were going to cancel the PMV but read a few posts that really made me see the AMAZING generosity and kindness of you all. I've been offered a meet up in my town to go over details, several rentals, a ride from the airport to our rental and even a room in someone's home. WOW! It literally made me tear up as I've really lost so much respect for rude, sense of entitlement types here. It really does amaze and delight me that's there ARE still great people out there, and it looks like many of them live in the VI.
A and A......I agree with most of what I see on this forum.........I just moved here last August from the Lake Tahoe region with my 3 kids, and husband still in California for a while. I work home health, so I drive all over the island every day, and into the best and the worst neighborhoods. I have to say, I have not had a single bad experience with this. I do not feel unsafe, however, I do not stay out past 10 or so, since I have my three young kids with me. We go to restaurants, I meet my friends at bars, I drive from C'sted to F'sted to get home regularly, and I do not feel unsafe. I do watch my surroundings, and make sure I don't put myself at risk. I have seen things stolen from cars and off the beaches, but I have seen that in California too. I only carry my one debit card or the cash I need with me and my drivers license, and leave the rest of my cards at home. I do have a safe in my home that I rent, so that helps, but I have all the normal things I had at home here.....no need to be paranoid. My neighborhood really keeps a good eye on who is around, and we all talk frequently....they would help if there was a problem, but I am in a full time neighborhood now. I first rented in a great area on the East, but it was a lot of parttimers there, and I was broken into frequently while at work, since nobody else was around. Just my experience.
I came from cold temps and very low humidity....the first few months were tough, but I have used an A/C only 2 times.....would love too, but just dont want to pay for it. and I get great breezes and have no need really!!! I am a five minute walk to beach on the rainforest end of the island.....much cooler feeling to me than the East.....(I love the East though too, don't get me wrong)
I have four of us full time, and a pretty large pool, and I do lots of laundry with the kids, and my power bill is usually a little over $300.00 We do have solar water heater, and gas dryer and stove......
Hope you get all your answers before you move down here....I bought cars here, as I was not really looking forward to dealing with shipping, and customs, etc...lots of cars right now that are going cheap.....the roads are hard on cars here.....I do a lot of preventative maintenance so I don't get stuck.....you will go through tires quicker than at home......
I find you can eat fairly decentl(price) here...once you figure out where to buy what you are looking for.....I do miss my options at home.,....but there are good options here if you have storage space.
good luck, and I am here for the long haul, it is a lovely place to live!!!